Popularity doesn’t necessarily make you rich. This is something that Yann Seznec of Lucky Frame, the studio behind the game Gentlemen!, can attest to as he looked back at the events and lessons that followed after they released the hit game on Android and iOS.
At its heart, Gentlemen! is a game that is meant to be played by 2-4 players on a single device, preferably a tablet, considering the number of fingers that need to be involved. No single player mode, no networked multiplayer mode. Just pure fun with a friend or family member in the same breathing space. Reviewers loved the game, which garnered high scores in much-coveted review sites, at least for those reviewers who were able to find someone to play with. And yet, the game, which sells for $5 or $3 on sale, has sold only 1,114 copies on iOS store and 144 units on Android.
As you might have guessed, piracy played a big role in the significant gap between sales numbers. Based on an analytics package in the game that reported the number of unique users, the developers discovered that three days after the game was released, only 8 copies were sold but 2,462 copies were pirated. The developer admits that they did not totally prepare for piracy scenarios and that the piracy could be explained by the game’s price, which some have complained to be too high, or availability, as the developers did not make the game available on devices they did not test it on or on devices that do not have Google Play Store at all.
That said, Seznec found it ridiculous that that people would take that as an anecdote not to develop for the Android platform or devices. Phones and tablets are just computers and should be judged on their technical merits and not be associated with lifestyle choices. Furthermore, using a framework or tool such as Unity has made developing on multiple devices and platforms extremely easy, at most costing them two or three days to make an Android version of the game.
It’s quite reassuring to hear developers such as Lucky Frame have not abandoned the platform despite the sales and piracy. Instead, they see it even more as a sign of success, that the game is something people loved to play as shown by the piracy figures. They are interested in trying to fix the piracy mess or, better yet, give pirate users a good incentive to pay. Seznec ends with a note on how Google Play users are more likely to leave reviews compared to iOS users, so Android games also have a sense of community going for them.